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“Notes from the Field”

Written By Dena Robinson, Wide Angle’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Facilitator

On May 1, Wide Angle Students traveled to Washington, DC to the new National African American Museum of History and Culture (NAAMHC) to see Anna Deaveare Smith’s one-woman film, Notes from the Field. Originally a play, Notes from the Field is now available on HBOGo. It chronicles the narratives of over 250 people that Ms. Smith interviewed, ranging from a Native American fisherman who had been pushed out of school, to the civil rights pioneer Congressman John Lewis. The play dramatizes accounts of students, parents, teachers, and administrators caught in America’s school-to-prison pipeline system, which pushes youth of color into America’s incarceration and criminal justice system.

The School to Prison Pipeline exists nationally, but its impact in Baltimore could not be more evident. Every day, Baltimore’s students come into schools carrying the weight of generational trauma, communal pain, and sometimes anger into the schoolhouse gate, and are expected to free themselves of those chains and learn. Notes from the Field is emblematic of how difficult it is when the experiences of students of color, in our case Black students, are permeated by race and racism and socioeconomic status.  One of our students noted, “this film is an important thing to see for any age especially the youth because of the important message it sends to people that we need to rethink the system we placed in schools.”

In Baltimore, students are routinely suspended and expelled for minor infractions, ranging from complaints about “disobedience” to “having an attitude.” However, what seems to be amiss in our society is the understanding that our students are hurting and are carrying so much pain. As educators and advocates of children, our role is to love our children and to help liberate them so that they can reach self-actualization. As a former teacher, Ms. Smith’s performance brought me to tears because it was reflective of my experience and that of the students I taught. On the bus ride home, I told students about a former student of mine who was shot and killed last summer who had been pushed out of the school. I told them that he was pushed out of the school I taught at and for what, because he did not feel engaged? Because he could not focus in school due to trauma at home? Instead of holding him closer and loving on him more, the school pushed him away and pushed him out. And now he is dead. His death was preventable.

The students realized that the treatment of students of color in school is tied into a larger system that also impacts their lived experience: racism. One student reasoned , “they will not see our humanity . . . black people in the United States did not really do anything to them for them to hate us the way they do . . . they just hate us just to hate us . . . to the point that they actively try to harm and murder us.” This is the lived experience of our students. They are amazing future mediamakers, but they are also compounded by the daily realities of living as black students in America. While we teach them the power of media and storytelling, they also receive a daily barrage of messages from the media, and society at large, that strips them of their humanity.

However, our students are brilliant and resilient and they wish to take what they learned to change reality for them and their communities. During the film, students learned the myriad of ways of documentary storytelling. One student said, “Anna delivered a fresh new way to do a documentary in my opinion. Even though one man shows have always been a thing I never paid attention to them like that, in my 17 years of life.” The students were fascinated by the way Ms. Smith took on her character’s and brought them to life.

Wide Angle provides essential opportunities for students of color in Baltimore City. Each year, cities across the Nation that have the most underfunded and under resourced schools slash arts and music education programs, cutting into critical access for children of color.  As an adult who was in a filmmaking program like Wide Angle, I know how essential it is for children to not only see representation of mediamakers, but to realize and actualize their potential to become our future media makers. This resonated with many of our students, including one who said, “I just want to make films with three dimensional black characters for black people to relate to and inspire to be. I wanna make films that make little black kids especially black girls wanna dress up as my characters. I wanna make films that inspire black people want to pick up a camera and start creating their own projects and raise their own voice. If my films can make black people go out and fight for change like Anna Deveare Smith’s film did for me, then I will be happy.” Another said, “the film made me want do more community outreach for the next generation to come, and also be proud of my Blackness as a young, Black girl.”

This is why we do this work at Wide Angle. We do not only want our students to become great mediamakers, we want to eliminate some of the barriers they face so that they can reach the pinnacle of a life well-lived: self-actualization. Our students, and many students of color like them, have an immense amount of power. These children are our future, and one day, they will use the power of storytelling to create a more just world for all of us.

Excerpts in this essay were contributed by youth producers Joelle, Brooke, and Ade. Additional students that attended the trip were Ayanna, Jannah, Israel, Tayla, and Madison.

Posted May 10th, 2018 in Baltimore, Blog, Homepage, News, Uncategorized by waym
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Globe Collection Press: “Build Relationships, Build Communities”

 About the Author: My name is Sharena Lawson. I’m a 12th grader at Patterson High School. I enjoy drawing, graphic design, and anime. I’m in an internship with Urban Alliance and I am working with Ms.Becky and the Design Team.

This week the Design Team created an informational poster about restorative practices. Restorative practices are when a group of people talk about the past, future, and share their feelings. It can be used in schools to build relationships and resolve conflicts. We want classrooms using this practice to have signage promoting their involvement. I joined in this project towards the end, but still learned a lot about the process. Before I became a part of this project, the team had already finalized the wording of the poster: Build Relationships, Build Communities. The next step was to prototype.

We created the poster by using letterpress technique. Letterpress is a very old way of printing. We were able to create the posters by going to Globe Collection Press at the Maryland Institute College Arts. I normally create posters on the computer software Adobe Photoshop, so having to create by hand was very new and fun. Using a letterpress machine isn’t as easy.

When using a letterpress machine, you actually have to look for the letters.The typefaces are blocks with letters on them. There are metal blocks and wood blocks. We used the wood block since it’s lighter in weight. Just like photoshop, there are many different types of fonts you can choose from, but you have search for the right font and size that you are looking for.  There is a lot measuring involved as well. Printing is restricted to the size of your letterpress machine. So we had to choose specific fonts and sizes that fit inside a form. You have to measure the letters and make sure your kerning, or spacing between letters, is correct. In retrospect, it’s kind of like using photoshop but the long way.

The finished results looked great. The poster had a blue and pink gradient background and the wording was in bold type. I liked how the words were arranged and how the font looked on the poster. I liked the design because it was very simple. I wish to learn more about using different types of design.

Posted April 11th, 2018 in Baltimore, Blog, Homepage, News, Uncategorized by waym
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March for Our Lives: A Wide Angle Collaborative Reflection

Image taken by Wide Angle youth producer Brandon.

 

The anecdotes below offer varied perspectives from Wide Angle Youth Media staff, students, and board as they reflect on the March 24th, 2018 March for Our Lives against gun violence.

 

WIDE ANGLE YOUTH: Brandon’s Story

On Saturday, March 24th, 2018 Wide Angle Youth Media students marched with over 800,000 individuals determined to put an end to gun violence, an issue that that has affected our community and even our schools. Youth from all over the United States shared with the world heartbreaking stories of how they, their friends and families have been victims of gun violence and how it affects them to this day. As someone who lost their brother to gun violence, I understand the challenges we have to go through in order to cope with our losses. Growing up in a Black community, you get used to the idea of people of color dropping like flies because it becomes second nature. The point of protests is so we can end the toe tags, make our community safer, make our schools safer and eliminate the fear of death from the youth’s development.

Growing up I wasn’t really worried about gun violence because for some reason everyone grows up with the cliche mindset that “it will never happen me”. We say it like the world revolves around us and our family members, and we are forever protected from the elements, but that changed fast for me. Three years ago we received a phone call that was NEVER expected to be heard. A phone call saying,”Your brother is dead”. At that point, I didn’t know what do, didn’t know what to say, all I know was that I couldn’t move as anger and anxiety rushed through my veins.

As soon as I pulled myself together, I was eager to find out what happened to him. I asked what happened and I get a reply saying,” He was shot five times, once in the leg, twice in the stomach, once in the chest, and once in the head”. We need to end gun violence, so innocent people like my brother won’t be left bleeding on the street, so families don’t get that heartbreaking phone call stating that their loved one is dead. Let’s put an end to gun violence. Let’s put an end to the pain and suffering. Let’s make our schools and communities safe.

Image taken by Wide Angle youth producer Brandon.

 

WIDE ANGLE STAFF: Tia’s Story

Two days before the March for Our Lives was scheduled to take place in D.C., I heard word that Mayor Pugh would provide buses for 3,000 youth in Baltimore City to attend the march. I thought, “Not. Interested.” Why? Well, throughout history just about every march in Washington has been co-opted, from the original March on Washington in 1963 to the 2017 Women’s March.

Putting my thoughts aside, I asked my students if they wanted to meet me at 8 am on the first day of their spring break to attend the March for Our Lives. To my surprise 4 students raised their hands.

“Great…,” I thought with full sarcasm intended. But as we walked through the streets of D.C., I felt an overwhelming urge to cry. There were so many people supporting the resilience and courage of youth, and I was glad that my babies (as I lovingly call them) had the opportunity to witness it all.

But, those feel good feelings were short lived as young, predominantly white youth standing on the National Archives began to not only talk, but yelled and laughed as Zion Kelly remembered his twin brother, Zaire, whom was shot and killed on his way home from his college prep class. Every time a non-POC child spoke the crowd yelled, clapped, and cheered. But when any child of color spoke, members of the crowd would fidget and talk; their actions alone silenced the voices of black and brown youth.

The young people that were with me didn’t seem to share my experience, but on the bus ride back to Baltimore two of the chaperones and I spoke about the clear manifestations of systemic racism that we observed. We felt, simply, that this was not a march for our lives.

Watching this behavior reminded me of my childhood. While I didn’t experience gun violence, I am the daughter of a drug addict. I spent the majority of my childhood in drug houses and prison visitation rooms. I witnessed how the crack epidemic ravaged my community. Anyone that walked our streets could tell that the War on Drugs was killing people and destroying families, but no one walked our streets. No one heard our cries.

Flash forward, and suddenly the War on Drugs that ravaged my family and childhood, when no one seemed to care, is now a public health crisis? The anger that Black Americans feel as a result of being categorically ignored, silenced, and dehumanized is real and should be acknowledged and validated.

The one thing that the March for Our Lives did well was center students of color, who have served as canaries in the proverbial coal mine, and allowed them to speak to the damage gun violence is causing in their communities. The audience may not have listened, but youth of color, even if just in that moment, were heard.

While standing with aching knees amidst a sea of white, I heard time and time again the demands of the young activists: keep the NRA out of politics, ban bump stocks, and create safer schools. Feelings aside, what do these solutions have to do with the violence that black and brown children around the nation experience everyday? Nothing. According to my experience and nearly every article and solution that came out of the march, this was just another March for White Lives. People of color and co-conspirators must show up, stand up, change the rhetoric, and focus their energies on changing the systems that prevent the liberation of black and brown children across the nation.

Image taken by Wide Angle youth producer Brandon.

 

WIDE ANGLE BOARD: William’s Story

I watched news coverage of the Columbine shooting in real time on a TV in class my Senior Year of High School. The entire school was transfixed on the horror of kids murdering other kids with guns en masse at school. We all thought, and some of us voiced, that it could never happen at our school, in our town. We were almost entirely Black and Brown kids and we felt safe from that kind of gun violence.

Fast forward to the March For Our Lives almost 2 decades later prompted by another HS gun massacre, my HS still hadn’t had a mass shooting, thankfully. But I stumbled across a profound memories from my youth. Kids from my HS in my small city are all too acquainted with gun violence.

  • The first person I knew who died of gun violence was a kid named Deandre. I met him once in passing in 8th grade. He was a year older than me and died from a gun shot and was found in an abandoned house.
  • My younger brother’s classmate, Michelle, was with her Boyfriend in a car, close to the home of a friend of mine, when they were both shot in the back of the head. She survived and lost an eye. He didn’t. She was in 9th grade.
  • Shortly after HS Graduation a kid who lived on my street, Jaime was out with a few other folks when he was shot in the leg. He didn’t make it to the hospital. He was 18.
  • A young man who was a Senior when I was a Freshman “MuMu” lived on my street. Shot to death in a home invasion robbery a few years ago.
  • On my 16th birthday, my classmate’s Mom shot their Dad and killed herself around the corner from me. I could see their house from my front yard.
  • Kid I played football with, Travis, was shot in the leg afterschool in front of the HS when neighborhood “gangs” had “beef”. He survived.
  • A kid named “Dubee” pulled a gun on another kid before baseball practice. We were 9th graders. I thought I was gonna witness a murder. Dooby never fired the gun. We had practice after that like it was normal. It is NOT normal.

The memories of people shot, who shot others and whose lives were impact by gun violence flooded back to me. I talked to old friends and they reminded me of numerous other cases I had buried in my consciousness. My town never had a mass shooting, but like far too many towns, guns violence was, and is, far too common.

The March for Our Lives wasn’t just about one tragedy in a place we don’t live, it was a call to action to end gun violence in our High Schools, Churches, Movie Theatres and our Communities. Tragedies that occur with great loss of life and tragedies that scar and maim and traumatize one person at a time must end.

As an adult looking back to my foolish younger self’s views on gun violence, I am extremely proud that my daughter, Trinity, is far more wise. She is in the same grade as Michelle and DeAndre when they were shot. Saturday in DC, in a the teeming crowd with Tia, Wide Angle Youth Media and thousands of others, she was marching for her life…and theirs.

William’s Daughter, Trinity

 

WIDE ANGLE YOUTH: Madison’s Story

On March 24, thousands of people, young and old, gathered in cities across the country to speak up about gun violence. I attended the Washington, D.C. march and it certainly lived up to the hype. This was my first time going to a march and I didn’t know what to expect. The schools in the city had been protesting in the weeks leading up to the national rally, but the ones at my school all seemed to be for show. I wanted in on the movement as someone personally affected by gun violence, but I didn’t want to do anything that would be superficial.

The day started as the busses, provided by Baltimore City, left the lot of Mondawmin Mall. Once in DC, my group began to follow the crowds to where the march seemed to start. There the crowd was still sparse and people were selling momentums. Music blasted as we made our way to the center of the masses, photographing the scenes, admiring the creative signs, and passing out our own. When we couldn’t move any further because of the immense density of the crowd, we waited. Round after round of cheers  went up as we chanted,“Vote them out” and “Protect our kids, not guns.”

Eventually, the program started and the voices of young people from all across the country blared from the speakers. It was amazing how even with so many people you could still hear the silence as children bravely shared their stories, but the entire time my mind was racing. As I listened to children tackle the different aspects of gun violence, I thought back to people in my own community, people who feel like inner city neighborhoods have been neglected because gun violence isn’t a new phenomenon for them. The people in my community have been losing loved ones to bullets for decades, but people waited to care until it was suburban white kids getting shot. When little children of color were watching their parents and brothers gunned down by bullets, the media didn’t acknowledge them. To my pleasant surprise, there were quite a few children from inner city neighborhoods who related and were brave enough to call these people out on a national platform, even if they weren’t received as warmly by the predominantly white crowds.

After standing all day and listening to speeches and performances around the topic of gun violence, I left feeling an incredible sense of responsibility. All those people got up there and represented their communities, but I was one in a crowd. It was then that I asked myself what I was going to do that separated me from the people that attended only for the story, or to have something to post. What was I going to do to bring my experience back to my community and make a difference? That really is what we should reflect on when we participate in advocacy. I’m going to go back to my community with the intention of making their voices feel heard in every way I can. No matter how you decide to impact your community, you should because if you don’t, who will?

Image taken by Wide Angle youth producer Brandon.

 

Posted March 29th, 2018 in Baltimore, Blog, Homepage, News, Slider, Uncategorized by waym
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Student Spotlight: Broken Pipes and Falling Ceilings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A blog post by Max Curtis-Lewis and Kaira Grant, Wide Angle Youth Media Design Team Students.
Max and Kaira are both juniors at Baltimore Design School.

Broken pipes and falling ceilings, these are things BCPS students see on a daily basis. On Tuesday, February 27th, the Design Team of Wide Angle Youth Media took a trip to Annapolis to speak on the issue of school funding. On the bus, we got a paper telling us the theme for the night and who would be there. In attendance was Delegate Maggie McIntosh, who is one of the main spokespeople for Fair Funding Fair Facilities (FFFF). She went into detail about the school trust fund bill which has $42 billion saved in it to be used for schools and only schools.

Kira started off the meeting by introducing our group and what we do at Wide Angle. Kaira and Kynel started their introduction then started their speech. Here is a highlight of Kaira and Kynel’s speech:

“Maryland is the richest state in America yet our schools are still poorly funded. Schools should make youth want to learn but the poor conditions of BCPS are having a poor effect on student morale. The poor structure of the school buildings is making the students not want to come to school… Due to the over-crowded classrooms, students cannot have one-on-one time with teachers.“

Here is a secondary highlight of Chloe and Erin’s speech:

“School funding is an issue that has plagued Baltimore City students. We’ve had to fight for more funding our whole academic careers. The lack of funding has affected our education tremendously.”  

At the meeting, we talked about goals for Baltimore City schools. The first goal that we spoke about was a short term goal, which is to pass SB611. This is the Healthy School Facility Fund with $30 million going towards emergency repairs to schools nationwide.The second goal that we spoke about was the mid term goal, which is to pass the Knott Commission Bill. This bill is yet to be filed but is currently in development. The long term goal that we spoke about is more funding to completely rebuild or fully renovate under the 21st Century Schools program. $1 billion will go towards renovating schools and 100 city schools need a full overhaul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, our concerns were received in a very respectful way. The tone of the night was calm yet powerful. There were many people – students, parents, and staff from different schools – there to speak on the issue of school funding and that was what was so powerful about it.

Posted March 7th, 2018 in Uncategorized by waym
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Staff Spotlight: The Teaching and Reaching Black Boys in America Forum

True progress is made when a society collectively strives to unlearn inherited behaviors. These uncomfortable conversations must be had in order to move forward in progression. Attending UMBC’s Teaching and Reaching Black Boys in America Forum was a healthy beginning to this lengthy process.

The forum welcomed activist-authors Dr. Eddie Moore Jr, Debby Irving (Waking Up White, Elephant Room Press, 2014), and Jack Hill, head of middle school, Cambridge Friends School, as panelists for a discussion about their newly released book, The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys. The book was created in hopes to spark a conversation around the book’s main premise that white women make up to 65% of the teaching force in America and because of this they play a critical role in their educational development.

The forum began with an introduction from each panelist, who provided their audience with their own unique perspective. Members of the audience were not only able to hear the side of two elder black males who had experience in education but also from a white women who has experience as well. Each panelist spoke passionately about the future of African American males in this country and how they felt their education was being put in the hands of women who don’t directly understand their needs. They went on about the history between the two groups dating all the way back to Emmett Till and offered the book as a guide in order to rectify the relationship between white women and black males. The book offers methods on how to develop learning environments that helps black boys feel a sense of belonging at school, as well as ways to change school culture so that black boys can show up in the wholeness of themselves and not feel the need to conform in order to make their teacher feel comfortable. Although I’ve never been a black boy and I will never fully understand their experience, I as a black woman know exactly how it feels to subliminally feel the need to tone down your blackness in order to escape judgement within a crowded room. Addressing the stereotypes behind their relationship and collaborating on effective ways to combat it is the only way to truly progress.

My favorite part was hearing Dr. Moore and Mr. Hill talk about the challenges they faced being fathers to black boys. As an audience member you could sense how passionate they felt about this topic. They spoke of the constant task of having to shake the world off the shoulders of their boys and how before working on the book they didn’t feel comfortable sending their most precious gift to someone who doesn’t fully understand them. Being an educator is a huge responsibility, you’re faced with the important task of molding the minds of the future, but how can you do so effectively with bias floating around in the back of your head? Debby Irving also provided a few gems to help combat this toxic nature. She spoke of her experience of having white privilege and how its okay to be uncomfortable in conversations such as this. I also really admired how during the discussion she challenged members of the audience who found conversations surrounding racial injustice to be uncomfortable, to use it to see from the other person’s point of view.“If you’re uncomfortable just talking about it imagine how they must feel living it.” She also spoke of the importance of not being a white savior and how one must help others with pure intentions instead of doing it for bragging rights or just to simply make yourself feel better. She did a wonderful job at providing her experience of being an ally as an example while also offering the book as a guide to help with overcoming the stigma surrounding white women and their black male students in order to form authentic connections between the two.
As a black woman living and breathing the same social injustices as my fellow black male counterparts, I often become blind to the troubles that they face everyday battling constant stereotypes and microaggressions. By attending this discussion, I left with a new consideration for the things they go through.

This blog post was written by Laurell Glenn, a Wide Angle Youth Media program graduate, Teaching Apprentice, and Administrative Assistant.

 

Posted March 1st, 2018 in Baltimore, Blog, Homepage, News, Uncategorized by waym
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Void – A film about Teen Depression

In Spring 2017, high school students in Wide Angle Youth Media’s Mentoring Video Project explore Joelle’s story of depression and of how the signs are more apparent than you think.

Mentoring Video Project Youth Producers:
Brooke Anderson
William Coles
Katia Crawford
Marc Cruise
Jayla Elliott
Joelle Faison
Kailah Hall
Michelle Hill
Eric Hunter
William Mitchell
Sama Muhammad
Ade Ogunshina
Eva Ojekwe
Brian Thompson
Ayanna White

Posted January 3rd, 2018 in Baltimore, Blog, Homepage, News, Video by waym
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Field Trip: Towson University EMF Major Day

By Wide Angle students Max, Kynel, and Kaira

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blood, gore, horror! In the Towson University Electronic Media & Film (EMF) “Major For A Day” program, these are the things we learned in the “Blood and Screams” class. We talked about our favorite horror movies and how different components of horror movies stay the same. In the Gothic Era, there are the abandoned castles, the woman that goes on her own to investigate, and the hypnotic eyes. The imagery has changed throughout the years, but the genre remains relatively the same. Below you can read more about what other things we experienced during the day:

Max:
“My experience Towson University was really intriguing. I tried out different types of filters for green screens. I also learned how to use the cameras to see different zoom ins and outs. The classes that I found were very interesting. The stop motion class seem boring at first but seeing the entire process, it was shockingly fun from my perspective. I learned about different video techniques.”

Kynel:
“My experience at Towson University gave me a brand-new perspective of what is it like on campus. It has given me an experience that not a lot of kids have to be on campus and feel like an actual college student. It has changed my mindset. It’s a great chance to see what college classes are like and what the courses are like etc. I am planning on going to Towson after my wonderful experience there.”

Kaira:
“My experience at Towson University was really fun. There was a green screen room where we learned how to use cameras that would be used in TV stations and we saw the different backgrounds that could be put onto the green screen. The last class I went to was a stop motion animation class, where we used characters from The Office and gave them a script. The whole creation was a process where you had to follow certain steps, and you had to be careful to not get your hand in the frame.”

In general, college seems like a scary experience. Talking to the professors, going to all the different classes, and being on such a big campus may seem intimidating at first. However, after having a tour to see for yourself, you’ll see that it’s not as bad as you once thought.


This Wide Angle field trip opportunity was made possible by a grant from Towson University & Pepsi.

Posted October 31st, 2017 in Blog, Homepage, News by waym
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Baltimore CityLab 2017: Youth Perspective

 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Joelle Faison is a youth producer at Wide Angle Youth Media.
She goes to Bard High School Early College and
aspires to be a Filmmaker in the future.  
 
 

I was fortunate enough to attend the CityLab on August 2, 2017 at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theater.,  As I listened to a lot of panel discussions, I also took pictures. The event explored key issues and opportunities that impact cities like Baltimore. The event was organized by The Aspen Institute, Atlantic Live, and Bloomberg Philanthropies and I felt this event was successful and insightful.

Walking into the Parkway theater where the event was held, I sort of felt out of place because everyone there looked like important people. They were wearing suits and were grouped up talking about smart complex topics while laughing and eating homemade potato chips. While there I am, holding a camera bag and wearing an outfit I borrowed from my mom. Besides all that it was still a pretty tight set up and it felt like a privilege to be around so many important people like the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Open Society Institute-Baltimore who were the Underwriters for the evening . I liked each panel a lot and each were important topics to talk about, like the vacant housing problem also known as Blight, and how one city came together to create an art installation called #BrightLights to raise awareness on the issue.

But the panel that stuck out to me was Battling Opioids: Lessons from the Front Lines with Nicole Alexander-Scott, Michael Botticelli, Josh Scharstein, and Leana Wen . What I really enjoyed about this panel was when they said that we need to start looking at substance abuse as a disease, not a crime. Instead of being in jail for it, how about we focus on getting help for people with drug addictions. I can relate because I have a family member who is recovering from substance abuse. Luckily they checked into rehab, underwent a treatment program, and did not have to go to jail. I don’t know how my life would be if they got jail time for using drugs. They are so important to my life, and if they were in jail I would probably be a different person.

Another thing they talked about was the stigma around labels and words used towards people who abuse drugs. Words like “drug addict” or “junkie and being “dirty” because you are using  drugs. These words of course have a negative impact on the person. It can lead to discrimination against people that do drugs, and treats them like  untouchables instead of people who need treatment and support. I asked some of the attendees of the event and asked them what they would prefer to call someone that used drugs that was a bit more positive. “Human being” was the answer they gave me also saying that there doesn’t need to be labels put on people.

Scot Spencer, Associate Director of Advocacy and Influence at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said something that stuck with me after the event:

“We tend to use words that demonize rather than humanize, and demonizing is just as effective in certain ways public policy strategy for punitive actions and humanizing can be for supportive actions supportive policies…”

The way I understood it was that we use words to demonize drug users, so it’s easier to put these people in jail because no one is really going to think twice about it. But if we as a society used more terms to make these people look human then we would have less people in jail and more people getting treatment.

 

 

Posted August 8th, 2017 in Baltimore, Blog, Homepage, News, Slider by waym
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Summer MediaWorks Project Highlight: Street Photography & Narratives

Students in Wide Angle’s Summer MediaWorks Program participated in a one week workshop on Street Photography and Photo Narrative. Students explored the Baltimore communities of Remington, Old Goucher, and Station North and visited a variety of small business. Students asked individuals that they met along the way what advice they had for career paths, and college readiness. Below are a small selection of those stories.

Nathaniel Jackson By Ayanna and Takira

 “I used to advocate for a Non- Profit on 25th and Charles St., under the leadership of Michelle Kelly, the executive director of Alternative Direction. They were on a panel fighting for women serving Life. I was on the board of directors for the organization called Out For Justice. I was incarcerated, I did 10 and a half years and I cleaned my act up, I had a drug habit, I couldn’t read, I couldn’t write. I was struggling getting my SSI and a place to stay. When I went to jail, I learned how to read and write, got a couple trades done. And I got out and gave back to the community, that was my way of giving back for the bad choices and bad decisions I made. Helping men and women coming out off that are struggling. I also helped myself by staying Clean and my blessings came I got my SSI and I got my house, I been here for 7 years. I never went to college. I fell a victim to the disease of addiction. I was in and out of recovery centers and reform schools. Elijah Cummings really helped me when I was prison, I wrote him and he took an interest in me and I couldn’t let him down so I got out of prison and I graduated from Alternative Direction, then I stayed on the board.”

Gagan Singh By Will and Laurell

“I started working at Red Emma’s in August of 2016. I went to University of Maryland Baltimore County. While I was there my major was actually English and even though it has nothing to do with cooking or owning a business. I could definitely apply the things I learned from it, like social and critical thinking skills to the work that I do now. I come from a long line of teachers so when I was little that’s what I thought I was going to do. But as I got older and as I started to interact with the community, I realized that I wanted more hands on experiences with the community. I also really love cooking so for me working at Red Emma’s checked off all of those boxes. I get to interact with the community, make awesome food and also be apart of this amazing group of people that work here.To high school students I would say take some time to figure out what your creative outlets are. The older you get the more responsibilities you gain and those creative outlets are what ground you. So what ever it is, like photography or writing or cooking, or maybe it’s being outside. Nourish those while you’re in high school and don’t be afraid to try different things. That’s the amazing thing about the generation we grow up in we can apply what we learned in school to any career we go into.”

Larry Smith By Deshaun and Gyasi

“I got a 17 year old daughter bout to go to college, one more year of high school. My one daughter does modeling, she into modeling my other daughter into fashion. I got a stepson, play football in college in Virginia he’s a wide receiver and quarterback. (I played) just a little bit but the streets took over at a young age. I always do stuff for the kids. It’s always something better out here. It’s rough out here today. It is really rough on our young youth out here today with all these killings. That’s the hard part keeping them out of that situation, you know. I like to see this they doing something positive.

I went to Lake Clifton High School. No, I didn’t make it to college, didn’t get my high school diploma in school; got that in prison. I didn’t gradate from high school, but I did get my GED, that’s a blessing. Sooo… It’s never too late.

Right now I’m the warehouse supervisor – I run everything that comes in and outta here. I’m try’na get another job, try’na always stay working. I grew up in East Baltimore, Harford road. Yeh. To me nowadays they just push our kids through school. So you know that’s like real tough on me and I stay hard on my kids in school because I know how they do in school now. When I went to school a 80 was passing now you only need a 60 to pass in school so…. It sucks, it really do. Some schools ya know, you got some people really who put their all, the side teacher really put their all, but then you got some teachers that just [are] like ok let’s get them outta here you know, so that’s definitely a big difference in the school system today. It’s about our young youth and they dying quick, they dying quick. It’s a shame.

When I was young I was like all other kids – thought I was gonna grow up to be a firemen or police man. Hehehe. But that didn’t work out so these days you just gotta go where you fit in at. Especially wit a guy like me, guys like us out here. Alotta guys like me wit records you know that’s why I say finish school, please, finish school. Stay outta this prison system cause that is not the place, it is not the place. Go to college. Do what you need to do. Provide for your family, if you make a family, if not just stay in your own lane. Stay strong, stay positive. Don’t let nobody tell you you can’t do want you wanna do if you put your mind to it. Anything out here you wanna do, just gotta stay motivated and push and have that family support.”

 

 

Posted July 21st, 2017 in Baltimore, Blog, Homepage, News by waym
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Know Your Rights!

Did you know? Every year Maryland school systems suspend thousands of students, many of whom have disabilities. When students are suspended, they lose instructional time and their learning is interrupted.

Students in Wide Angle Youth Media’s Design Team collaborated with Disability Rights Maryland and the Maryland Office of the Public Defender to develop a Know Your Rights booklets to help students better understand their suspension rights. To date, the Know Your Rights booklets have been distributed to over 2,000 students, family members, and community advocates in Maryland.

Learn more about your rights and download your own booklet here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you think that you have been unfairly suspended, contact one of the organizations below:

  • Students with disabilities: Disability Rights Maryland (410) 727-6352
  • Students without disabilities: Maryland Office of the Public Defender (443) 873- 3531

To learn more about the Know Your Rights campaign or to request materials for your school, please contact info@wideanglemedia.org

 

DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCES:

PRINTABLE SUSPENSION CARDS 

 

THIS WORK WAS MADE POSSIBLE BY:

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 

 

 

Maryland Office of the Public Defender

Posted June 26th, 2017 in Blog, Homepage, News, Uncategorized by waym